- Magnifying glass
There are numerous violins and violin makers the world over. Some violinists prefer to play, and recommend, violins made in a specific country and by specific makers. In some cases, identifying your violin's maker may not be possible without taking it to a professional. It is possible in many cases, however, to identify the maker of your violin with very little detective work.
Place your violin in a well-lit area and have a flashlight available to make it easy to see inside your violin. Even with a lot of light, there may still be shadows inside your violin that will make it difficult to look for a label.
Look through one of your violin's f-holes--the openings on the top of the violin, on each side of your strings--with a magnifying glass. You will typically see a paper label or metal name plate glued to the inside body of the instrument. If no label is present or name plate is present, look for words engraved or written inside the body, though finding either of these is unlikely.
Look for a handwritten names or symbols. Antonius Stradivari, for instance, hand wrote his name on the label (Antonio Stradivari), followed by the city he worked in (Cremona), followed by the words "Made in the year (date)." The words were followed by a circular logo with a cross and the initials AS. Many older violins from Italy, France, and Germany worth money will have a label similar to this, with or without a logo.
Identify the words on the label. In some cases, you may only find something like "Made in Germany," "Made in China," or "Made in Bohemia." There may not be a maker listed on the label. In this case, take your violin to a professional violin appraiser.
Always see a professional, reputable violin appraiser, even when you identify a maker. This will help ensure authenticity.